Richard D. L. Fulton
(1/15) The Fairfield Borough Planning Commission voted to recommend to council their approval of a draft ordinance to regulate geothermal installations and other aspects of well construction, or use and construction.
While the borough has not had a well ordinance, the county Office of Planning and Development recommended that all municipalities should adopt one, based on a draft ordinance the county produced in March at the direction of the state.
Although most new construction in Fairfield Borough would almost certainly connect to public water (thus not needing a well), there is nothing "on the books" which would prevent a property owner from establishing an open-loop geothermal system which does discharge to wells or other water bodies.
Thus, one of the proposed regulations concerning geothermal in Fairfield’s draft ordinance prohibits the installation of open-loop geothermal systems, while authorizing closed-loop geothermal systems.
Geothermal systems use heat pumps to tap into subsurface heat naturally generated underground for heating, and provide a means of discharging heat into the ground for cooling.
The planning commission is also recommending that the council adopt a $100 installation permit fee, which would cover administrative costs and the costs of two site inspections.
In other business, Adams County Office of Planning & Development Planner Robert Thaeler noted that work on a proposed official borough map had not progressed over the past month due to the holidays.
Neighboring Hamiltonban Township formally adopted their official township map at their February 5 meeting earlier this year as part of an ordinance to provide for recreation and open space.
The Hamiltonban Township map explicitly identifies existing public lands, conserved lands, and recreation resources, and "proposed rights-of-way for recreation trails, greenways, and other lands identified for public use," as a planning tool.
Thaeler stated, regarding work on a Fairfield map, that progress should begin to pick-up to produce a draft for the commission’s consideration at a future meeting since the holidays are over.
The commission also reviewed a stormwater management site plan for the proposed constructin of a single-family home within the borough that could be sited above a limestone formation, which raised concerns over geologic hazards associated with such formations.
The board voted to refer approval of the project to council, conditioned on meeting all of the engineering comments, and granting a waiver from conducting further subsurface tests at the site.
However, if limestone is encountered during any of the excavations, certain standards of the stormwater management ordinance will be waived, but new water quality elements will need to be included on the lot.
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